OWASCO — The town of Owasco's new pickle ball courts and nature-themed splash park made their debut on Wednesday afternoon with the presence of the community.
Also the first day of Owasco's summer recreation programming, a handful of children joined with town officials, project donors, Cayuga County Chamber of Commerce representatives and residents as the town officially opened the splash park — billed as the first in the county — to the public.
"I'm really excited for (the splash pad)," Owasco Recreational Director Steve Simmons said. "It's going to bring a lot to the community."
Simmons, who's directed summer programs since 2007, said he's been excited for these additions, especially since they follow the addition of a fully accessible playground — also a first for the county — that opened last summer.
"It's great to have a playground where everyone, regardless of ability, can participate," Simmons said.
The splash pad, decked out with turtle, mushroom and plant-themed sprinklers, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Owasco Town Supervisor Ed Wagner said. He said there are different things for children to interact with, such as sprinklers that can be spun to whip water around. All the water for the splash pad is sourced from the town's own treatment plant and then drains back into Owasco Lake.
When the splash pad is open, at anytime one can walk up to the center of the splash pad and push the button on the ground to initiate the water works. Each time the button is pressed, it commences a four-minute cycle in which different sprinklers in the splash pad take turns sharing the spotlight.
"At the farmer's market last week, as soon as we turned it on, these kids came running from the playground," Wagner said. "This place was filled."
Wagner said that the splash pad is not 100 percent finished, but it is fully functional. In the future, seating will be installed around the splash pad and fresh sod will be put down. He added that the town has already received a grant to build an additional pavilion between the splash pad and the main playground so that parents can watch their children in either, or both, locations.
Other changes to the Owasco playground include the newly installed pickle ball courts, replacing old tennis courts; a newly resurfaced basketball court; the relocation of the bocce ball courts and a new parking lot for overflow parking that doubles as an emergency helicopter landing pad.
"I'm really proud of this," Wagner said as he stepped onto the newly created pickle ball courts. "The response has been overwhelming."
Wagner has already heard from multiple people who are willing to volunteer to organize pickle ball leagues, he said, similar to the four bocce ball leagues that already exist.
"I'll give the thanks to the people that run the town," said Gary Atkins, a 57-year Owasco resident. "It's one of the best communities to live in."
Atkins also made a point to praise the town for funding all the latest projects with donations rather than taxpayer money.